Canada’s food guide advises to eat one dark green and one orange vegetable every day; choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt; have vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, fibres and carbohydrates, but occasionally linked to illnesses.
In BC, reports of illness are received every year by the Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC) from wild mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns. Potatoes can also be a problem with the potential to cause illness from botulism or solanine. In recent years DPIC has noticed an increase in the number of calls from people who have become ill after eating wild mushrooms that were foraged (picked) outside. The mushrooms can be found on lawns, in parks, along roadsides, or in the forest. Wild mushrooms may be poisonous.
Cooking does not destroy toxins in foods.
In 2012, six BC residents became ill with
Hepatitis A virus after consuming a mixed frozen fruit blend; pomegranate seeds from Egypt were identified as the probably source. In 2011, a large outbreak that started in Germany caused nearly 4,000 illnesses through-out Europe. People became ill after eating raw sprouts in salads and sandwiches (fenugreek sprouts). The pathogen was a novel toxin producing
E. coli. Other high profile outbreaks related to fresh vegetables in recent years include spinach contaminated with
E.coli O157:H7 in 2006, and jalapeno peppers contaminated with Salmonella in 2008. A BC spinach outbreak in 2001 led to the creation of guidelines for growers about the importance of managing water and fertilizer sources.
As a consumer there are actions you can take with your fresh fruits and vegetables (guideline), like washing your produce that will limit your exposure to harmful bacteria and other microbes. Cooking all foods to an internal temperature of 74°C will also destroy most harmful bacteria.
The information on these pages represent the work we do on behalf of the public, industry and government. Some of this information was written for the general public and some was written in technical language for public health.
Food Protection Services • 604.707.2440
NCC for Environmental Health • 604.829.2551
Poison Control Centre • 604.682.5050 (local) or 1.800.567.8911 (toll free)